In the News: February 4, 2013

In this Edition of In the News:

Spotlight on (and off) New Orleans

New Orleans received great press during the Super Bowl weekend. Some highlights include:

The Real Super Bowl Winner
Wall Street Journal - February 1, 2013
The Wall Street Journal captures the sense of optimism that abounds in today’s New Orleans. They point to education reforms, a balanced city budget, the influx of new business start-ups and recent college graduates, and a relatively low jobless rate of 4.7% as just some of the reasons New Orleans has to celebrate.

Katrina spurs transformation of New Orleans schools
CBS News - February 1, 2013
Mayor Mitch Landrieu talks to CBS News about rebuilding the public school system after Katrina. Landrieu says New Orleans had the opportunity to create something almost from scratch, and the mostly charter system has made great academic gains, closing the gap with state averages in a very short period of time.

The blackout during the game was an unfortunate incident that marred an otherwise picture-perfect weekend. Click here to read what the national media is saying about the blackout.

Charter Schools in the News

Charters’ Path to Success or Failure Set Early, Study Finds
Education Week – January 30, 2013
A new Stanford University CREDO study found that how well a charter school performs in its first year is a strong predictor of how well it will perform in later years. Eighty percent of the lowest performing schools remained low-performers through their fifth year in operation, while 94% of the top schools remained high performers. Authorizers need to pay close attention and be willing to close schools if they don’t show signs of improving early on.

Charter School Growth Fund Paying Off, Study Says
Education Week - January 31, 2013
The latest CREDO study found that schools supported by the Charter School Growth Fund produced greater academic gains than both traditional public schools and other charter networks. The Charter School Growth Fund provides grants and low-interest loans to Charter Management Organizations (CMOs) across the country, but first it puts the CMOs through a rigorous screening process to gauge whether they are worth the investment. Editor’s Note: The Charter School Growth Fund, with the help of the Arnold Foundation, is investing $25 million in New Orleans to create and expand more high-performing charters.

New skepticism of for-profit companies managing public schools
Hechinger Report - February 1, 2013
The number of public schools managed by for-profit companies is getting smaller. Two possible reasons: philosophical objections to mixing public education and profit (especially in low-income communities) and mounting skepticism over their performance. In New Orleans, all of the for-profit companies brought in after Katrina to run new charter schools have ceased operating.

Can traditional school systems be replaced by charters?
Washington Post - January 30, 2013
The debate over what to do with a failing public school system continues. At a panel discussion in D.C., which included Louisiana’s Superintendent John White, Andy Smarick of Bellwether Education Partners said that traditional urban school systems are broken. They can’t be fixed, and charter schools should be the blueprint for replacing them. Kayla Henderson, D.C. Schools Chancellor, said there is no perfect solution. No group, not even charter schools, has figured out how to create a system that consistently and equitably educates the neediest children.

Louisiana praised as national leader in charter school law
Times-Picayune - January 29, 2013
The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked Louisiana 6th (out of 43 states) for the quality of its charter school laws. Louisiana received high marks for giving charter schools the freedom and funding to innovate while still holding them to high standards.

National Education Update

Anti-Poverty Program Found to Yield Few Academic Gains
Education Week – January 16, 2013
A report on the Moving to Opportunity fair housing program, which provided housing vouchers for low-income families between 1994 and 1998, found that moving to better neighborhoods did increase the family’s mental and physical health, but it did not significantly increase children’s reading or mathematics achievement or the likelihood that they will be on track to graduate from high school or be employed as adults. Students changed neighborhoods, but most still attended schools that were low performing.

Focus on Teachers

Union eyes charters, seeks teacher contact info and offers training sessions
The Lens – January 28, 2013
The United Teachers of New Orleans has requested teachers’ names and contact information, employee handbooks, and charter agreements from 35 of the city’s 70-plus charter schools. The union president says it is time for a return to collective bargaining in New Orleans to give teachers real input at the school site level, but others fear a return to union constraints and limitations. The union is offering professional development to teachers whether they are members or not.

John White counters claim that teacher evaluation is spiking retirement rate
Times-Picayune – January 28, 2013
Data from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Louisiana (TRSL) shows a large increase in the number retirees in 2012, which some argue is because of the new teacher evaluation rules that will soon go into effect. Superintendent John White disputed this assertion saying the DOE’s analysis shows the percentage of teachers leaving the classroom is approximately the same as last year.

Around Louisiana

Value of two-year degree argued
The Advocate - January 25, 2013
Research shows that Louisiana students who graduate with a two-year degree are having an easier time finding jobs and are earning more money immediately after graduation. Eighteen months after graduation, 72.5% of those with associate degrees were employed compared to 59.5% of students with bachelor’s degrees, and those with associate degrees were out-earning their bachelor’s degree counterparts. After five years, those with four-year degrees had generally closed the gap, and after twelve years they were earning more.

Louisiana ranks high in educational standards, low in student performance
The Advocate - January 28, 2013
An Education Week report released earlier this month gave Louisiana an A for education standards, assessments, and accountability, but an F for student achievement. Louisiana consistently ranks low in student achievement, but has implemented strong policies geared to improving academic performance.

Local News

New Orleans’ Schools at the Top of the Class
New Orleans Magazine - February 2013
In “Born on the Bayou: A New Model for American Education,” David Osborne documents New Orleans’ transformation from one of the worst performing school districts in the nation to what he calls “a model for reform.” Osborne writes, “Because it harnesses the power of decentralization, choice, competition, contestability and accountability for results, it’s simply a superior form of governance.”

Taylor Foundation pledges $1.26 million to first-generation college students bound for Loyola University
Times-Picayune - January 31, 2013
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation has pledged $1.26 million to Loyola University for scholarships for first-generation college students who live in Louisiana and need financial help. The grant will provide seven $15,000 scholarships per year for twelve years.

School audits uncover issues at Lusher, Lagniappe, Miller-McCoy
Times-Picayune - January 22, 2013
Annual audits revealed problems at three local charter schools. A Lusher employee embezzled $25,000. Miller-McCoy has two potential ethics violations, and Lagniappe Academies failed to conduct criminal background checks on some employees.

New Orleans parents need easier access to school choices: John Ayers
Times-Picayune - January 30, 2013
Parents are more engaged than ever in finding the right school for their children, but the ever-changing school landscape, the lack of a true centralized enrollment system, and limited high-quality options, make the enrollment process difficult and frustrating. John Ayers, executive director for Tulane’s Cowen Institute, says we must do more to streamline the system and help families access their school of choice. Read the Cowen report on parent opinions on the school selection process.

RSD closures frustrating
The Advocate - January 31, 2013
The closures and charter turnover at low-performing RSD schools may make sense from an academic perspective, but families are concerned about what the disruptions mean for their children.

Charter school boards do better job of following budgeting law
The Lens - January 24, 2013
Twenty-five of forty-three New Orleans charter school boards complied with all steps of the state’s budget law this school year – posting a notice in an official journal about the budget, waiting 10 days before holding a budget hearing, approving the budget at a public meeting, and posting a final notice that the budget process is complete. Twelve more charters came close to compliance, falling short on just one or two requirements. This is a significant improvement over last year when The Lens reported that almost no charter school boards followed all steps required by law.

Announcements

Annual School Expo February 16th
The Urban League of Greater New Orleans is holding its annual School Expo on Saturday, February 16 from 10am – 2pm at the Super Dome. This is a great opportunity for families to meet with school leaders and community resource providers and apply to schools on site. Admission is free. Click here to register and for more information.

Greater New Orleans Teachers of Mathematics seeking new members
The Greater New Orleans Teachers of Mathematics, a network for math teachers in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, is recruiting new members. The organization will host a membership luncheon on Saturday, March 2 at the National World War II Museum. The last day to register is February 8. For more information, go to www.gnotm.org.

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